Gold hits record; silver at 30-year high

Gold powered to a record high at $1,300 an ounce on Monday, with investors pouring more cash into the market on global economic health worries and the possibility of further quantitative easing to stimulate growth.

Silver, often considered the poor man’s gold, rose to a 30-year high as investors also chased a cheaper alternative. The metal has gained nearly 30 percent this year.

Fund managers and industry experts say gold’s rally has further to run in the longer term as it provides a hedge against inflation amid expectations that central banks worldwide could resort to quantitative easing to support their economies.

Spot gold firmed to $1,297.90 an ounce by 1336 GMT, after hitting a historic $1,300 an ounce and versus $1,295.60 quoted late in New York on Friday.

“Momentum is still very much in favour of gold,” said Jesper Dannesboe, senior commodity strategist at Societe Generale. “I wouldn’t dare go against it and definitely wouldn’t want to be short, there’s good appetite to buy,” he said.

Bullion’s rally accelerated last week after the US Federal Reserve signalled its readiness to pump billions of dollars into the economy through purchases of government debt, a process known as quantitative easing.

“Every country in the world is giving signals that it could print money…what else are you going to trust apart from gold,” said Sean Corrigan, chief investment strategist at Diapason Commodities Management.

The Fed’s statement had hit the dollar, which dropped on Monday to a five-month low versus the euro, offering further support for gold.

US gold futures for December delivery rose $2.1 an ounce to $1,300.10 an ounce, within sight of an all-time high at $1,301.60 hit on Friday.

Industry experts see fresh highs for bullion. Delegates at the London Bullion Market Association annual conference forecast a price of $1,406 an ounce by September 2011.

The world’s biggest miner of the yellow metal, Barrick Gold said bullion could see above $1,500 an ounce next year.

Central banks capping their gold sales would be another factor to support the prices. On Monday, Germany’s Bundesbank said it will keep its gold sales to a minimum in the next 12 month.

“I wouldn’t call it a safe trade because everyone’s has it now,” Dannesboe said. “It’s been running for quite some time, I believe a correction is due.”

A potential correction could be limited, traders said, with the physical market still buoyant despite record high prices.

“There is buying even today despite gold touching $1,300 as the rupee is in a supportive mode,” said Pinakin Vyas, assistant vice-president with IndusInd Bank. “The buying momentum would continue on upcoming festivals.”

Silver jumped to its highest in three decades at $21.61 an ounce.

“The medium-term outlook for silver remains positive in our view and we therefore raise our medium-term price target to $25 an ounce,” said metals strategist Michael Widmer at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in a research note.

The world’s largest silver-backed exchange-traded fund, the iShares Silver Trust, said its holdings rose to a record high at 9,613.02 tonnes by Sept 24 from 9,582.59 tonnes on Sept 23.

Silver’s main sources of demand are for use in industrial applications such as semi-conductors and jewellery. Spot platinum was at $1,629 an ounce versus Friday’s last quote of $1,637.70 an ounce while spot palladium was at $558 an ounce versus $556.70 an ounce.